Black Eyed Kids

things that go bump in the night

I have to admit, I don’t find the Black Eyed Kids scary at all. The story does nothing for me. But I have friends who insist that I should be terrified, that these are horrible, horrible things. And according to Internet land, they’re getting popular again. Is it the holiday-or is there something actually going on? Originally published in 2012.

While it’s possible that there are links within every urban legend to stories dating back into pre-history (the idea that urban legends are created in part out of the archetypal images and fears) it’s also just as possible that as society shifts and develops new urban legends are going to come about.

One of the most visible of the ‘new’ urban legends is Slenderman– but right now I want to talk about another of the ‘modern’ myths- black eyed kids.

It’s possible that the black eyed children story predates this, but one of the most commonly quoted origin stories for the legend dates to 1998, making this legend less than 20 years old. Brian Bethel, a journalist, is said to have printed the first story to receive widespread attention on the phenomena. Further, if the encounter actually occured, this becomes a story that bridges the gap between urban legend and experienced event- while Bethel may have had an encounter, many of the people who hear about black eyed children experience them through traditional urban legend distribution patterns; many will hear about friends of friends who interacted with black eyed children.

The encounters are pretty much the same- a handful of pre-teen aged children approach a stranger, either in their car or at their home. The children demand entry into the car or the house; the owner refuses. The children then demand some sort of payment, generally in the form of a trivial amount of cash. The adult feels more and more uncomfortable with the children but can’t figure out why- until they realize that the children’s eyes lack irises- the black eyes of the legend.

Eventually the children leave with no harm done to either the car or the driver. However, the adult is left with a lingering sense of discomfort.

Interestingly, there seems to be some validity to the Bethel angle. Such an individual does exist and does publish for a newspaper. Also interestingly, there seems to be some disagreement on urban legend forums about the nature of the eyes. It has been pointed out that the original story does not imply that there was anything odd about the eyes other than the solid black irises- which could be an issue with dark brown irises in low light conditions.

In other words the black eyes of the black eyed kids could just be a case of an odd situation turned inadvertantly into an urban legend.


One comment

  1. It does sound a little more like “Hey, these kids did this weird thing” versus “these black eyed children will pursue you and consume your soul if you don’t offer tribute” or whatever.

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